Fennel seems to be one of those foods: people either love it or they hate it. Those who look at the fragrant bulbs with disgust often compare them to black licorice: the most controversial candy on the market. While I don’t enjoy knawing on black licorice, an everlasting box of Good & Penty, or licorice allsorts, I love fennel. I carmelized it with onions and roast it atop a salmon filet in this Salmon with Fennel recipe, throw it into sweet potato hash, and sprinkle it atop this lovely Pickled Fennel Salad.
Like many other things I get from Tucson CSA, the three bulbs of fennel I received in my share this week were different than what I usually find in the grocery store. The bulbs were much smaller and more tender; the fronds were bright and lively (with a few lady bugs still living amongst them); and the flavor was much softer and milder. Due to their small size, I didn’t quite have enough to make my favorite salmon recipe. So, I did what I always do when I don’t know how to use a particular variety of produce: I pickled it!
Pickling fennel lessens its black licorice flavor and instead provides it with a nice vinegary bite. Pickled fennel is the perfect way to make people love (or at least tollerate) fennel; and it’s so easy to make!
Now that you know what pickled fennel is like, image thins: A bowl of tender spring spinach and lentils, sprinkled with pickled fennel and carrots and topped with a soft-boiled egg. I call it a Pickled Fennel Salad. A Pickled Fennel Salad that will make you wish that spring would last forever (if only those allergies would go away).